How to Set the Groundwork for Productive Meetings

February 12, 2018 Rachel Illingworth Koeling

Chances are, the meeting invitation you hesitated over for the past ten minutes is one of many that pile up in coworkers’ inboxes. Participants in one workplace study reported that they attended an average of 62 meetings a month. That means you’re (probably daydreaming) in a meeting for a quarter of the time that you’re working.

Going by the data, something seems to have been lost along the way. Meetings are meant to be productive — time for solving problems and sharing ideas with colleagues. Taking all of this into consideration, it’s essential to include forethought and preparation when planning meetings.  
people in meeting

Before sending an invitation

Once you’ve determined whether the meeting warrants the cost of time and effort, there are some things to keep in mind about scheduling.

It’s thoughtful if you ask your coworkers if they’re available before sending them an invitation. Some workers cluster all of their meetings on one (or a few) days each week, so they can concentrate on their work on other days. If their online calendar says they’re available all afternoon, you might very well be impeding their plans.

After getting a green light that everyone is available, solutions like G Suite (and Google Calendar) offers a guide for scheduling. And be sure to include a meeting agenda and meeting goals within the notes or message area, so everyone comes to the meeting on the same page.

While you’re waiting for RSVPs, you could spend time checking that your hair is combed ... or you can start preparing for your meeting. (Did you know that prepping for meetings beforehand can alleviate nerves?)

Maintain coworker engagement

Meetings don’t have to be stuffy and formal. Start off on a positive and casual note — ask everyone how their day is going. Personalize the experience for your teammates. “The quality of the relationships that enter a meeting determines the quality of the conversations that will occur during the meeting. That’s why it’s important to set aside time to build relationships among team members,” suggests HBR. Make the first few minutes about catching up with colleagues and meeting new friends.

Here are a few more tips for holding an efficient meeting:

  • Say people’s names when talking to them. It’s endearing, and rapport-building.
  • Send an agenda over to your fellow colleagues before the meeting, then link back to it at the start of the meeting. It helps for others to understand where you are in your meeting notes, and it gives them an idea of what they can prepare in response.
  • Ask for feedback. Sometimes it works to ask people specifically if they have input.
  • Plan a little more time into your meeting than you expect to take, to field any questions or brainstorm on late-blooming ideas.

Button it up

After sweating over the meeting invitations, spending valuable time preparing for the meeting, and personalizing the experience during the meeting, you’ll want your coworkers to walk away feeling informed and engaged. Ensure that they are, by asking these questions before concluding the meeting:

  • Completion - Does everyone think we’re at a good stopping point?
  • Alignment - Is everyone on the same page?
  • Next steps - Who’s got what task to be completed?
  • Value - What are your goals for the next meeting?
  • Acknowledgment - Anything else before we go?

Thanks go far

Businesses are becoming more globalized, and your work colleagues are spread farther and farther around the world. Coworkers may be geographically far, but your business relationship doesn’t need to suffer. It doesn’t hurt to sit down after your meeting to email a “thank you” to your colleagues. This keeps your meeting topics on their mind, and adds to business relationships.

Conducting a business meeting with plentiful communication and preparation can help workers to be more collaborative, and thus, engaged. We at Appirio believe engagement, agility, and productivity are the tenets of a strong Worker Experience, which feed into and make a great Customer Experience. (You need happy workers to have happy customers.) We call this relationship the Virtuous Cycle. If you’d like know more, read our Virtuous Cycle ebook.

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